Recipe: Neopolitan Cupcakes

Neopolitan cupcakes - chocolate, vanilla and strawberryI’m submitting this to the America’s Test Kitchen/Cook’s Country “Dish It Your Way” Blogger Challenge for Cupcakes.

Neopolitan ice cream has long been a favorite of mine – with strawberry, vanilla and chocolate. I guess that’s the indecisive person in me and how you can get the best of the entire ice cream world in one scoop.

The history of Neopolitan ice cream goes back to the late 19th Century when Italian immigrants introduced their revolutionary way to make ice cream from Naples (hence, Neopolitan) to Americans. Now back then, the flavors were probably more like lemon, pistachio, vanilla and chocolate or cherry (think along the lines of a spumoni), but through the years the U.S. palate developed a liking for vanilla, strawberry and chocolate.

I got to thinking one day, “Why can’t I make a Neopolitan cupcake?”

During Hurricane Irene I scoured the internet and some recipe books I had at home but couldn’t find any recipes out there specifically for this dessert. So, I pulled together some basic recipes for vanilla cake, chocolate frosting and strawberry frosting, and voila! The Neopolitan Cupcake has been born.

The result is a moist, vanilla cake stuffed with chocolate frosting, then topped with a strawberry buttercream. If you’re indecisive like me, then I don’t think you’ll be disappointed in this cuppie with three of America’s favorite flavors all in one bite!

Editor’s Note: For all the references below to milk, I substituted unsweetened almond milk and had no issue with strange textures or tastes. The recipe makes about 18 regular-sized cupcakes.

For the cupcakes:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract (if not using almond milk)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pan with paper cups.

In a bowl, cream the butter and the sugar until fluffy. Beat in one egg at a time. In a separate bowl, sift the flour with the baking powder and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar, alternating with milk. Beat until smooth.

Filling the cupcake tins with vanilla batterFill the cupcake tins to 2/3 full using an ice cream or cookie scoop. Bake for 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool in pans, then to a wire rackCool in pans for about 10 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the chocolate filling:

  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate (I used bittersweet chocolate chips)
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5-6 tablespoons of milk

Melt the chocolate in the microwave in 15 second increments. Stir until smooth.

Combine the powdered sugar, salt, chocolate, shortening and vanilla in a large bowl. Add a few tablespoons of milk and blend. Continue blending until you reach your desired consistency.

Making holes in your cupcakesOnce the cupcakes have cooled, take a knife and remove part of the center of the cupcake so you have a little hole for the filling. You could also use a cupcake corer to do the job, but a knife works just as well. Save the leftover cake for some little nibbles as you go or for some hungry taste-testers around your house.

Filling the cupcakes with chocolatePlace some of the filling into a piping bag and fill the cupcake holes until the filling is level with the cake.

For the strawberry frosting:

  • 2 sticks of butter, softened
  • 3-4 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup of pureed strawberries (You can use frozen or fresh. If frozen, thaw completely first.)

Strawberry frostingStart by beating the butter until soft. Then, add in 3 cups of powdered sugar and blend. Add the strawberry puree to the mixture and beat until combined. Next, add the vanilla and mix. Add more powdered sugar until the frosting is to the consistency that you like.

Frosting the cupcakesFrost the cupcakes using a piping bag. To finish, add some freshly sliced strawberries to the tops and serve immediately. Otherwise, store in the fridge for up to five days.

Here’s a cross-section of the finished cuppie:

Cutaway of the Neopolitan cupcakeDoesn’t it just look so delectable?

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